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Sunny: “If you’re my friend I’ll go to war for you!”

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Let's open the confession box of Mr Sunny Garcia, a world champion and six-time Triple Crown winner. More than Kelly!

Sunny Garcia is the just-turned 44-year-old former world champion (2000). Perhaps more significantly, he has won the Triple Crown of Surfing, the title given to the best-performing surfer of Hawaii’s three events each year, six times. More than Slater. More than anyone. In comparison, Kelly Slater has won it twice.

Sunny is one of our legends. And while his arms look of hardened tough and his fists have pounded many faces, his voice sounds of educated professor. It is soft. Sweet. His sentences are well thought. He doesn’t fall into traps of over-using swears. Each time he does swear it carries authority and passion. His cadence lacks almost all island inflection. And it is wise. Sunny Garcia has lived. He has surfed professionally for a quarter century. He has been to jail. He has been married thrice. He has three children. He is known, in surfing, by one name.

Now let’s open his confession box.

On being an icon: Ahhh, I don’t think about that, you know? I believe people everywhere, all around, guess whatever they want to about me, about my life. I don’t know them and I don’t try to create anything necessarily or change anything about myself. I don’t think of myself in any particular way and people might just fill in the blanks. But I am just me. I just do what I want to do and have fun.

On winning the title:  I was just so relieved, you know? I seriously thought that I had squandered the early years when I was capable of beating anyone. But I was young and partying and just having fun instead. Then fucken Pipe in ’95…So when I won the title it felt great. Good. I was relieved to have it finished. I am thankful for it.

On modern surfing: This can be a trick question. Are you talking about the judging or what? Just the surfing? Ummmmm. Shit. As much as I don’t want to say I think it looks pretty terrible. Every single one of the new kids looks the exact same. They do the same things on the wave. Some kind of bad style to the end section where they punt. It looks fucken bad. In the past you knew the style of everyone who surfed. All the guys had their own styles and you could walk up and down the beach and pick guys out. Now they are all doing the same exact fucking thing. All these fucking kids just go down the line looking for the air section and punting.

I love watching Dane and Jordy. To me that is fucking great surfing. A lot of the new kids just can’t surf with any style. And I blame the judging, in part, for that.

On Kelly Slater: Kelly is one of my favourite surfers even though I don’t like to admit it. He is the greatest surfer that has ever lived. I couldn’t say anything about it when we were competing because I wanted to beat him so bad. And he was my main competition. I love the way he surfs. He can do whatever he wants on a wave. And consider him one of my best friends.

On judging: When they got rid of Perry (Hatchett), the lead judge, I think it was a huge fucken mistake. The judges now overscore one air… a guy cruising and punting one air… and I think it is really hurting the sport. Kids are surfing to that standard now which is just not good. I love surfing so much that if I feel the judges aren’t doing their job I have no problem calling them out. And that is the way it should be. I’ve done it (called the judges out) for my friends and they have done it for me. Fine me. I don’t fucken care. Fine me every single day of the week. Keep my fucken money. I was born with this talent and born competing. I don’t do it for the money. I do it because I love it.

On being seen as a rough character: I don’t fucking care. I don’t think of myself that way. If you are my friend I’ll go to war for you. I’ll give you the shirt off my back. But if I don’t know you and you are talking shit, or messing with my family or friends? Then I will punch you in the face. I don’t care. The press has always made me out to be a rough character but it is not who I really am. I just don’t have time for people I don’t coming up to me and causing problems. You would too.

On marriage and divorce: We all get married. When I was younger I just wanted my own family. My own wife and kids. I have been married three times now and you go through the highs and the lows. With my first two wives we just never made it through the lows. Divorce? I don’t have any problem with divorce. If you’re not getting along in your relationship then it needs to change. My first divorce really broke me up a lot. My ex-wife got married pretty quickly after and I couldn’t imagine another man raising my children. So that broke me up. But 12 years later I see things in a different light. Now we are great friends. And I have a good relationship with my second wife as well – she got re-married. And I am remarried. So I feel it worked out good for all of us, you know? Everyone is happy. In order to be successful in life, in marriage, you have to get to the point where you admit things to yourself. All of my experiences have made me who I am.

On thankfulness: I say thanks to my friends, my family, and my fans. Everybody who has helped me do what I do. I have enjoyed it. I am enjoying it.

Movie: The Hebrew Hammer

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

The surf has been pumping in Israel. Jew fever! Catch it!

Who knew the Med could whip up this kinda milkshake?

Ten days ago, a four-to-six-foot swell lit up the Israeli coastline. This film by Noam Eshel captures the best of Israel’s surfers at a surfing contest in Sokolov Beach, Nahariya, right there on the border with Lebanon, a dear friend to world Jewry.

Israel has waves and not just in some oblique theoretical way. Pull out that old school atlas and swing into the middle east. See how much fetch there is in the Mediterranean west to east? Over four thousand kilometres. Enough to create swells that’ll hit, at times, eight feet plus and light up one of the most wonderful collection of reefs, breakwalls and beaches you could ever imagine.

Take a swig!

Billabong Up North 2015 – אליפות ישראל בגלישת גלים, סוקולוב נהריה 2015 from BoardShop Israel on Vimeo.

Ask Pam (Episode 3): Dance Like Happy Black Chillun!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Come and romp with Dane and Courtney's french bulldog Pam! She was sick, but now she healed!

How can you trap the exuberance of Courtney Jaedtke and Dane Reynolds’ french bulldog Pam?

Over the course of the last four months, Ask Pam, an advice column that has covered topics as diverse as the loneliness of modern life, existentialism and the Solange-Jay-Z rift, has become a much loved and much visited part of BeachGrit.com.

And, today, Pam, advises on surviving in a dirty world (“Focus on doing you!”), how to market yourself as a pro surfer (“If you can’t do a super good air I recommend getting a single fin and getting a bohemian style”) and how to tap into a new vein of music (“Watch videos of other countries’ dancing”).

Everything seemed so useless until now! She purrs!

Send your own (audio) questions to Ask Pam ([email protected] or [email protected]). That voice memo function on an iPhone? It’s perfect.  Include a photo too!

Ask Pam (Episode Three): dance like happy chillun! from BeachGrit on Vimeo.

MEA CULPA: Vissla creates! Innovates!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

"I was wrong," says Chas Smith. "I mocked Vissla but it is flying out of shops! And they just signed Eric Geiselman."

I was in college, I think, when I first got on the Internet. Having grown up in rural, coastal Oregon “technology” consisted of quality mud flaps and the local 7-11’s big gulp machine.

My guide, sitting at our shared prefab desk in a cement block dorm cell, poked some keys on his Mac and there we were. Online.
“Look. I can chat with girls…” He said with a smug mouth.
“I chat with girls in person, you fucken nerd.” I responded with a smugger one. This internet ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of socially inept turds.
Years later, I remember when people started whispering about online shopping. I was online too, at this point, reading the news and buying airplane tickets but real shopping? Like buying denim? No way! “I buy denim in person, you. This internet shopping ain’t going nowhere. It’ll be the bastion of people whose clothes don’t fit and who also shop at Costco.”
Years later, Vissla came out. I mocked its prefab hipster marketing but apparently it’s flying out of the shops, helping bouy mom and pops and, recently, they signed Eric older brother of Evan Geiselman. Eric totally rips. He is really good and fun to watch but no one ever sponsored him because maybe he was from Smyrna Beach? Or because maybe he didn’t smoke cigarettes and look all cool an industry insider told me. Whatever the case, the kid, who is no longer a kid, went sponsorless.
Like about the Internet, in general, and online shopping I was wrong!
God bless you, Vissla. But your sister D’Blanc is still a piece of shit.

The Miraculous Photography of Mr Burkard

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

From the northern lights to warm-water tubs in the Caribbean, Chris Burkard sure do know how to steal a photo… 

How about we bring it back a little to the ol school. When photographers epitomised the rugged individualist ideal, wrapped in bandanas and flack jackets loaded with Nikon cameras and wide-angle lens, and traipsed through snow and dirt and scum, cutting through barbed wire with pliers, to steal photos that made y’wanna throw your trunks in a bag and find an adventure.

Chris Burkard knows travel. He searches the constellations for waves. Where the air is cold and pure and remote. He lived for six months in a Kombi, driving from Oregon to Tijuana for his book The California Surf Project.

Nat Geo features his work, of surfers standing beneath aurora borealis in Iceland and water shots with snow draping the mountains behind, begging for the technical details of his images.

His movie and book with Ben Weiland, Russia: The Outpost, follows Cyrus Sutton, the eldest Gudauskas bro and some extra pals camping on the very exotic Kamchatka Peninsula. Google Earth! It’s rad!

But it ain’t all cold water. His book Come Hell or High Water – The Plight of the Torpedo People is a treatise on bodysurfing featuring his and others photo essays on the purist craft.

Now let’s catch some of his advice, from this wild creature who floats upon any tide and on any wind…

First big adventure: My first trip was one of the scariest. It was the first time I left the country. I went to Dubai/Oman/Yemen. My passport was brand new. First stamp. My parents thought I was going to die and yet I I met some of the nicest people I’d ever encounter. It really opened my eyes

The difficulty of adjusting back to normal life after a stint in the wilderness: Oh, that is tough. I hate the feeling. Turning your cell on. Hearing buzzing and whistles and just the idea of knowing you have to respond to all these people about stupid things when you’ve been immersed in nature’s glory. The worst part is getting back to sleeping in a bed. It just makes you lazy. When you camp, you’re up with the sun. You’re in the cycle with nature’s time clock.

Preferred method of travel: By car. I like road trips. The idea of seeing it all and being able to jump and photograph something. Boats and planes are way too confining for me.

Rules for packing: I break all the rules and always bring too much. My rule is to pack a week before and think about everything you’re bringing and slowly unpacking the crap you don’t need. There’s a few things I always take and if I’m not taking ’em, I usually question if the trip is gong to be super soft and that maybe I shouldn’t even be going. I take: Water purifier, Gerber Multi-tool, a Goal Zero solar charger, a down jacket, a tent and sleeping bag.

Best trip: Norway for a month was unreal. We took snowmobiles to surf in the north next to the Russian border. And we took a three-day ferry ride to these remote islands in the south. Scored incredible waves. Ate whale. Got frozen. got snowed on. And saw the northern lights almost every night.

The worst: I did a trip with a bunch of groms to Oz a coupla years back. It was sorta like a big advertising trip and I basically to babysit while they got wasted and tried to pick up chicks for a week. Not to mention the strong onshores brought bluebottles into the lineup every day and the waves sucked.

Most amazing place: Iceland. I’ve been 10 times and I can’t wait to go back. There’s nowhere on earth I have felt as close to nature. It sounds funny but you feel like the country is forming around you. Geologically it’s just… active. It feels alive.

Most scared: When I was locked in a jail cell in Russia in 2009.

Moments of utter surrender: When the jailer escorted me to my cell in Vladivostock, Russia, and locked the door.

Chris Burkard shooting in the Caribbean

…maybe when y’think of Chris you think of his cold-water work. But he certainly isn’t adverse to throwing himself into the remoter corners of the Caribbean. This wave works maybe six times a year and if you’re not ready to throw your bag over your shoulder at the first sign of an appropriate swell and wind combo, y’gonna miss it. Chris isn’t one to miss an epic wave.

Most extreme poverty you’ve seen: A woman lying face down on the ground in India with vomit coming out of her mouth. I couldn’t even take a picture because I didn’t think I could live with myself documenting that kind of poverty without being able to help in some way. I also did a trip to Nicaragua and visited La Churecha which is a trash dump that families live in. Lots of disease and girls driven to prostitution. It was wretched.

Most extreme wealth you’ve seen: Dubai. There are people you cannot, literally, even look at. These guards will shut you down. They  close off freeways to escort through rich sheiks. I’d never been anywhere where the white man didn’t reign supreme. They have license plates that indicate their class and if it’s high enough they can drive as fast as they want.

Craziest thang you’ve seen: Flying over Norway on our way to a small fishing village. We were in a light plane and the pilot let me come up front and watch the northern lights from the cockpit. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. The sky didn’t seem real. I almost question my existence, if I was still on earth. We flew right through strips of green, red and blue.

Where could you live apart from home: Iceland. And, yeah, I’ve already looked into it.